Absolutely convinced now: support for the whole family

Absolutely convinced now: support for the whole family

You’ve heard from one of my clients already on why new moms should hire a postpartum doula. Now you get to hear from another mom! Below is feedback from a client on why you should hire a postpartum doula as part of your postpartum planning, and how it benefits everyone in the family.

Newborn snuggles are the best.

Mom enjoying her new baby girl.

Why did you want to hire a postpartum doula?

It can be a pretty hectic time, especially if you have a c-section.

The thing about a postpartum doula is they know the exact situation and they can help you exactly the way you need. It’s a very specific kind of help.

There can never be too much help. My mom was there, my husband, my brother and sister-in-law – it’s not like we didn’t have anybody. Even if you have a ton of friends and family to help out, it’s good to have an extra person at least once a week.

You might not want to ask friends or families to do certain things, but a postpartum doula is someone you can ask.

Did I meet your expectations of what you had in mind for a postpartum doula?

Yes, you met expectations, and I would like to note that my husband and mom were skeptical, and you over-exceeded their expectations. There was a lot of relief. There was so much that had to be done, so to come home and to have even one or two things done already, everyone’s just a lot more happier, healthier.

And you’re the type of person who does continued support: I feel like you continue. You get to know people and become friends with them and you do offer continued support. It’s not just “you paid me, and it’s done” – without realizing it, it’s just an extra person in the community who, if they don’t know the answer, they might know someone with the answer.

Did anything I did stand out to you?

My family was very happy. Mike (my husband) doesn’t like spending money on that because he thinks he can do it all himself. To come home and even have the garbage taken out, you could just see the stress taken off of him.

(Darla’s) going to know what needs to be done. You came in, you were comfortable, you knew what needs to be done, you filled your time with all that needs to be done.

What would you say to families on the fence about hiring a postpartum doula?

Do it. It’s worth it. It’s kind of like getting a good photographer at your wedding. It’s worth the money. Realistically, no one is ever really ready for that situation, and it’s good to have somebody who knows what they are doing. We’re not all equipped to do this. We don’t get trained to do it. We all have jobs in the world and get trained to do it, but almost nobody gets trained to be a mom.

Check out my Testimonials to hear more from other moms.

What I do as a postpartum doula

What I do as a postpartum doula

Recently I was asked by a mom of a newborn and toddler what exactly is it I do as a postpartum doula. The conversation made me think this would be a good time to do a blog post! While I list what I do here on my website, I thought I’d write about what I’ve specifically provided for different clients, because everyone’s needs are different, and I tailor my services to their needs.

I recently served a couple who had their first baby. They did not have a lot of family living nearby, but saw the benefits of mom taking it easy after birth, like moms do in other cultures. When I would visit their home, I didn’t actually spend a lot of time with mom, who had created her own little nest for her and their baby upstairs in their home. If she and baby weren’t resting when I arrived, I would check in with them to see if she needed any help or a drink or snack. Then I would spend the majority of my time in the kitchen, where I cooked meals: I would make recipes we had agreed upon before my arrival, and often more than one, so that there were both meals and snacks available to mom and dad. I would also then clean the kitchen, I often cleaned the upstairs washroom, and I would take out the garbage and recycling when I left. During one visit, I cleaned out the fridge and threw away any condiments that had expired (I joked to my husband that in the three years we’ve lived in our current home, I’ve never done that!). Over the course of my visits, I helped with breastfeeding, bathing the baby, sterilizing breast pump and bottle parts, and I put together a Mamaroo.

Mmmmm banana walnut muffins. Easy to make and great for moms to have on hand. One of the snacks I made for a client.

Another client I served gave birth to her second baby, who arrived earlier than expected (aside from being early, baby was and is healthy and continues to do well!). While I normally visit clients once a week, she and her family had more immediate needs in a shorter time period, so we made arrangements for me to do multiple visits during a week. On my first visit, my main task was to rearrange the living room furniture to accommodate a bed so mom wouldn’t have to go upstairs. During another visit, I picked up groceries and a prescription for mom. (Kind of funny story here: she gave me her card to pay, and when I went to tap it, it didn’t work. Since I didn’t know her pin, I pulled out my debit card. The clerk was looking at me strangely, asking, “You don’t want to try your pin?” Um, no, I don’t….!) During another visit, I played with her toddler and organized all of the new baby’s clothes and folded and put away laundry. I probably did other household tasks I don’t recall: I always try to take out the garbage when I leave and to leave the home tidier than when I arrived, even if it’s just something small like wiping down counters or picking up toys.

This mom had support: her husband is extremely helpful in that he does a lot of the cooking and laundry. Her mother was also visiting for an extended period of time. After my first visit, mom texted me to say she could just feel the relief in her partner and her mother. During one of my visits, the grandma called me an angel. I was touched beyond belief! Sometimes I wonder how much I am helping people, but help comes in many forms, and you can never have too much support. Everyone needs a break at some point and having a new baby is mentally, physically, and emotionally draining on everyone to some degree.

Here is another scenario: mom and dad are having their second baby, and they know from their first experience that they would like some additional help for mom, who suffered from postpartum depression. I met with them in advance of baby being born, and we actually talked through and developed a postpartum plan. I really recommend this. As the dad said, it helped keep him accountable for what he said he would do, but it also meant mom couldn’t get upset with him if he wasn’t doing another task. It puts mom and dad on the same page, and it provides them with resources ahead of time so if mom is having a bad day after baby comes, there is no scrambling for help: resources and numbers to call are listed in the plan.

My visits with this family are different each time. I have sat with mom and listened to her share her birth story; I have held her newborn so she could take her older child and one of their dogs for a walk, so she could take a blissfully hot shower and do her hair, so she could take her eldest trick-or-treating, or so she could run an errand child-free; I have showed her how to use her wrap (I can show you from my own experience as a mama, but like this mom, you can always bring in someone who is certified for more help and to try different carriers!); I have done laundry; I have cleaned the bathroom; I have played with the older child.

Win-win: I get baby snuggles, and mom gets some time to herself or time with her older child. Photo used with permission.

For both of the two previous moms I’ve mentioned, I brought them different teas to help with breastfeeding. And even though I may only see a client once a week, I am in constant touch with them if they need and want it: I try to balance being helpful without being a pest! I am always available for questions. I find mom evidence-based articles when she does have questions, I point her to more resources if she needs them, but most importantly, I am a non-judgemental ear when she needs someone to listen and to reassure her that she is not alone and that she is doing a great job. Family is a great support, but a postpartum doula is great because I have no ties to your family, I’m not part of the family dynamic, so there is no baggage or opinion there. I also don’t give unsolicited advice and frankly try to give little advice: instead I try to offer support and resources so mom can make the decision best for her.

So what I do a postpartum doula really varies, depending on what mom needs. We work that out in advance of baby being born, or if baby surprises us and comes earlier than expected, we go with the flow and plan in advance of each visit!

If postpartum support is something you or a friend or family could benefit from (postpartum support would make a great baby shower gift!), please get in touch. I would love to hear from you and hear how I could best serve you and your family. Every woman can benefit from some form of postpartum care and support.

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How to make a postpartum plan

How to make a postpartum plan

When you’re expecting a baby, a lot of the planning tends to revolve around the things you think you’ll need: a crib, a change table, a breastfeeding pillow, a pump, bottles, sterilizer, how many sleepers and onesies, receiving blankets, diapers, wipes, a stroller, car seat…the list of things you could buy in preparation for a baby’s arrival is endless.

While you do need some of these things, I’d suggest it’s more important to stick to the basics when it comes to stuff (you will have a better idea of what extras you truly NEED after baby arrives) and plan for what your day-to-day life will look like after baby arrives, or what I call postpartum planning.

I’ve written before about why it’s important to do this: the short of it is because cultures that support women more during this time have lower rates of postpartum mood disorders. Where I live, 1 in 4 or 5 women will suffer from PPD. (Of course, just because you have support doesn’t mean you won’t get PPD, or if you don’t have support, that doesn’t mean you will. But the two are often tied together.) And planning doesn’t mean everything will go perfectly, but it does increase the likelihood of mom feeling less stressed, overwhelmed, and isolated, which means she’s more likely to feel peace and joy in motherhood.

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In the very early days, we spent a lot of time in this position on the couch – which wasn’t always possible with two dogs, so I welcomed any help I could get with meals and letting the pooches out!

So, what does postpartum planning look like? To start, think about a regular day/week in your house and who is responsible for what. Here are some examples to get you started:

  • who buys the groceries?
  • who picks up the mail and deals with paying bills?
  • who takes care of housework such as laundry, sweeping the floor, vaccuming, dishes, cleaning the bathroom?
  • who cooks?
  • who walks the dog or changes the cat litter if you have pets?

In our culture, we often place unrealistic expectations on moms. She’s at home, so she should do all this work, right? No. She’s caring for a new baby, and that’s a HUGE job. How big of a job? Watch this video to see how many hours you have leftover in a day after you care for yourself, a baby, and do the bare minimum of meal prep and housework (hint: it’s fewer than 10 and you still haven’t slept).

So you need to think about who is going to do the above tasks: is it all going to be dad? Remember, it’s a hard time for dad, too, after baby is born, so he can’t be expected to take on it all. If that ends up being the arrangement, make sure you talk about it first! Don’t just assume: that isn’t fair to either of you. Is there anything you can delegate to other family or close friends? If not, what can you leave? Maybe the mom can still do some of this, but not as often: maybe you can sweep the floors every two weeks instead of once a week. Maybe you can hire a housecleaner once a month. Maybe you order takeout more often. It is an intense but short season: it’s not forever. Housework will keep, and eventually it will be easier to do some of these tasks (think babywearing!).

After you’ve thought about household tasks, try to imagine your life with a baby (which I know can be hard to do until your baby is here – here are some tips on what to expect from a new baby):

  • do you want visitors right away? (If you do, ask them to bring a meal when they come! If you don’t want visitors, no apology necessary! It’s your home and family.)
  • how are you going to feed baby?
  • cloth or disposable diapers?
  • where is baby going to sleep? (your baby might dictate this to you!)
  • who gets up with baby in the night? (if mom’s breastfeeding, that might be your answer, but maybe dad changes baby first and then returns baby to mom, as an example)
  • how will you ensure mom gets enough rest, recognizing she’ll be waking in the night?
  • how will you ensure dad gets enough rest, recognizing he might be getting broken sleep but still going to work an eight-hour day outside the home?
  • who will mom call if she’s having a really tough day?
  • how does the family ensure mom has time for self-care?

I encourage families to create lists: lists of household chores for people to do when they come over; lists of groceries you need; lists of activities older children like to do; lists of healthcare and postpartum professionals mom might need (think lactation consultants, pediatrician/family doctor, pelvic floor physiotherapist, chiropractor, public health nurse, postpartum doula, etc).

Even if you’ve already had a baby, I would encourage you to do this exercise, but instead try to imagine life with a baby and another child, and reflect back on your first experience. What would you have liked to have done differently? What worked?

Whenever I present to new or expectant moms, I tell them it is a strength, not a weakness, to ask for help. I can’t say this enough. Whether you are hiring help or getting help from a family member or friend, you should never feel bad or that you aren’t a good enough mom because you are asking. It’s the opposite: by acknowledging you need help, you are taking care of yourself, and that’s how you will have the energy to take care of others. You are also helping to change the stigma around asking for help and paving the way for moms who come after you: the more we all acknowledge we need help, the easier it is for us to ask.

Motherhood can be hard, but you don’t have to do it alone. 

If you’d like a FREE postpartum planning outline or a sample postpartum plan, message me below with your preference, and I’ll send it your way!

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